This surname DOLAN was derived from the Gaelic O'Dubhlain, and has been on record in Ireland since the 12th century in the baronies of Clonmacnowen, County Galway. County Galway acquired a separate identity from the rest of Connacht when that province was divided and shired in 1585. The country is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and on the south by the waters of Galway Bay and a land boundary with County Clare. To the north lie the counties of Mayo and Roscommon, the latter also flanks County Galway to the east. The walled city of Galway, which contained about one-tenth of the population of the county before the famine of the 1840's, was of prime importance in the county with a flourishing commercial port and the handsome dwellings of the merchants. County Galway has long remained an Irish speaking region and the language has survived as a first language in the remoter parts and in the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway Bay. Old customs too, such as the wake and keening at funerals, died out slowly in this area. In the past the fine lobsters from Connemara, abundant on the coast, were a food eaten by the poor. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. The name meant 'the son of Dobhailen' and a branch of the family first took the spelling O'Doelan. Many of the families moved north-eastwards, and the name is now numerous in Leitrim, Fermanagh and Cavan. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 18
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